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    Principals Diary

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    July 2018
    M T W T F S S
    « May    
    1. Advice to principals about technology


      Principals have so many responsibilities on their shoulders, and their greatest concern is that students are learning and there is evidence that learning is taking place in the school. While that concern is the primary goal of any school or school system, the myriad of other responsibilities competes for the amount of time that is needed for new technologies to be introduced, teacher competencies developed, and monitoring of student involvement in technology to be the constant primary focus of the typical school principal. What can be done about the situation? Good principals know how to delegate responsibilities, and that is the beginning of opening the world of technology into a school’s infrastructure. Principals know which teachers are technologically proficient and which teachers want to be more techno friendly in the classroom. The first piece of advice is to make the best use of that group of teachers. Develop a team of teachers who are familiar with using technology in the classroom, pair those teachers with the teachers who want to engage students with new technology but are not sure where to begin, and give this group TIME.

      Time must be provided for this team to develop and hone their schools, share their excitement, help one another with problems, and discover new uses for technology. A technology team that has time to meet for discussions and training sessions becomes the basis of a group of teachers who act as technology troubleshooters within the school. For the team to be a workable group, the teachers involved need time to determine what their goals are for technology use in the school. With this framework in mind, the teachers can begin meeting to learn and share techno ideas with each other. This time is extremely important because teachers who want to use technology must have the time to become familiar and proficient with the technology available in the school. Their confidence in using that technology is important because these teachers become the resource persons for other teachers who see the need for technology but have not taken the plunge into incorporating new devices, software, and web resources in their classes. The more teachers in this team, and the more confidence exhibited by the teachers in this team, the better the resource base for the entire school. The efficacy and efficiency of such a team is valuable not only for the students of those classrooms, but also for the impetus of drawing other teachers into effectively using technology. This resource group makes it easier for teachers less familiar with the technology age to get the assistance they need to become confident in using techno resources in their own classrooms. In addition, this team can provide different in-service training sessions based on teachers’ needs and wants for incorporating technology in a variety of content areas. More diversity on the resource team provides more possibilities for drawing in teachers reluctant to use technology. In-service days can provide specialized training sessions depending on what the staff needs as a whole and in specific groups. This resource team provides more individuals to work with teachers in developing content, assignments, and creativity across the curriculum. These teachers are willing to go into a classroom during their planning period to set up materials and provide guidance to a teacher using a new tech tool for the first time. The increased camaraderie among staff members is a boon for students and makes the principal’s job a little easier as well.

      Of course, new technological tools are needed if principals hope to keep a school moving forward in the 21st century goals for education. A piece of advice regarding the acquisition of these tools is to make sure that several teachers receive training for each techno tool that is brought into the building. It does not help to acquire a myriad of tech tools that no one uses because no one has been trained in the use of the tool and how to incorporate the tool in daily lesson planning. Having only one person on staff who is familiar with the tool means that teacher is overtaxed to help everyone else in the building to develop the competency needed to incorporate that device, software, or resource. In addition, having several teachers trained to use each piece of equipment or resource provides those teachers with the opportunity to develop creative new ways of implementing the technology. The science teacher sees a totally different perspective of the equipment than does the English teacher or the math teacher. These three teachers together will share their perspectives and develop unique and sometimes unorthodox means and methods for incorporating new technology, and this gives rise to finding more varied uses of the item throughout the school.

      Never underestimate the ability of teachers to learn on their own either. Provide some in-service time for teachers to explore tools, software, and web resources on their own. Principals may be pleasantly surprised to learn how well this time can be spent. Teachers who have the time to practice and use technology on their own will find new ways of using resources and new resources for instruction. Giving teachers time to wander through the maze of technology on their own will yield results of the “stumble on” variety that bring refreshing changes to their classroom instructional time. If you中国福利彩票下载安装αpp give teachers time to find just one new tool, resource, or method to share, you中国福利彩票下载安装αppr teachers will concentrate on finding one item for content they currently teach or will teach in the near future. Provide them with a little time to write up a quick notes handout to share with others, and the principal becomes a hero who has provided several new ideas in each content area ready for use in a short amount of time. Leave the handouts in a central location where teachers can access what they need, and you中国福利彩票下载安装αpp increase communication among teachers striving to reach the same goals for seamlessly incorporating technology into their classroom frameworks. Teachers will be providing each other not only with feedback on the lessons shared, but they also will give each other new variations and resources that are in the same genre. The staff becomes a more cohesive group with better defined goals not only for implementing technology but also for more effective teaching of skills and concepts.

      Finally, principals need to be proactive about praising the increased use of technology in the classroom. This is a key concept in the 21st century learning goals, and the principal who encourages and praises staff members for taking the leap into incorporating technology in their individual classrooms gives rise to better and more efficient uses of technology in all classrooms. Good principals know that if they want their staff to “get on board” with any idea, encouragement and praise are much better motivators than goading and nagging. In addition, the principal who talks to students about their technology use in the school helps to promote the responsible use of that technology in the student population. Teachers will know that their efforts have not gone unnoticed, students will be aware that they are a part of a mini-revolution in their school, and the principal will have the feedback she needs to determine what is working, what isn’t working, and what new tools to invest school monies in next.

      When all is said and done, principals need to develop a great technology team that can implement the use of new equipment and resources and who serve as resources themselves for the rest of the staff. This requires providing all teachers with time to acquaint themselves with tools, resources, and ideas, and time to tweak the technology to better meet the needs of their individual teaching styles and experience. By recognizing the efforts of the entire staff to move students into a 21st century atmosphere of learning, the principal provides both guidance and reinforcement for effective teaching that incorporates technology in a seamless manner in the individual classroom environment. All of this can be accomplished without the principal having to spend hours each day in promoting the use of technology because that becomes the focus of the technology team and the staff as a whole. The results can be surprising and impressive. The minimal guidance needed from the principal becomes a fruitful effort for an entire staff. The key to it all is providing time for teachers to become comfortable with their roles as 21st century educators. Without the time to devote to improving 21st century teaching skills, all the technological tools, gadgets, and resources are worthless. Provide teachers with the time to become better teachers, and all the students will benefit from the collaborative spirit and extra effort.

      LaDonna Hatfield

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